Dialogika

Texts from the History of the Relationship

HIERONYMOUS HÖLTZEL, publisher, An Account of Alleged Host Desecration and Ritual Murder (1510)

[From Alexis Rubin, Scattered Among the Nations, pp. 119-122.]

"An Incredible Event" (1510)

Jews from the Brandenburg Province purchase and torture the body of Christ the year of our Lord 1510.

Herewith is published what formerly has been common knowledge. The following occurred at 11:00 P.M. on the Wednesday after the Feast of the Purification of Mary. Paul Fromm, a "wicked Christian" and a native Pomeranian and resident of Bemau, a tinker and a reputed murderer, let himself tempted by the devil. In the church of Knoblauch, Brandenburg, he broke into the tabernacle at the altar, from which he stole a gilded pyx containing two consecrated wafers, one large and one small, and one gilded monstrance of copper. When, on the following day around eight o'clock in the morning, he sat down on a stone in the vicinity of Staaken to inspect his plunder, he abused the larger wafer in an unworthy manner. Instantly he was plunged into pitch darkness, and he could neither get up nor move for over half an hour. Shortly afterwards, he headed to Spandau (two miles from Berlin, in the direction of Brandenburg, where the Havel and the Spree meet) and there offered to sell the monstrance to a Jew with the name Salomon. Salomon replied: "Where this is from, there are more." The wicked Christian then drew the sacrament from his breast pocket and demanded sixteen groschen. Salomon offer him five, and the deal was closed at nine district groschen, or six silver groschen.

Next, the man who had sold God headed toward the Wendische, but as he did not wish to stay there, he returned home, heedless of the warning that his unconscionable theft was already notorious. Once home, he threw the monstrance from his house over the city wall, but with God's providence it hung in a tree. The burgomaster of Bemau found it there and had the already-suspect man taken into custody. The man confessed immediately, without torture.

Salomon had meanwhile laid the sacrament on the edge of a table and, out of congenital Jewish hatred, battered it several times over and pierced it; even then he was unable to wound the Lord's body. Finally, beside himself with rage, he yelled out, among other curses; "If you are the Christian God, then in the name of a thousand devils, show yourself!" At that moment, in reaction to the taunt, the holy body of Christ miraculously parted itself into three, just as the priest breaks it,-but with the result that the cracks took on the color of blood. The Jew carried the three parts of the wafer on his person for four weeks.

One year earlier, Salomon had agreed with the Brandenburg Jews, Jacob and Marcus (from Stendal), that if one of them should manage to get hold of a sacramental wafer he would give each of the other two a share. And so Salomon now gave the two portions of the wafer, well packed in small boxes covered with Samian leather, to his son to take to Jacob in Brandenburg and to Marcus in Stendal.

The remaining piece, which was his own, he once again struck and pierced until blood flowed from it. He did everything he could to offend this last portion of the host-drowning it, burning it, and attempting in several other ways to destroy it-all to no avail. Finally it dawned on him to knead the sacrament into a scrap of matzo dough and to throw it into the oven at the Jewish Easter celebration [Passover]. And even though it was pitch black in this oven, all of a sudden he saw (as he himself confessed)-a bright luminescence, and twice he saw floating above the bread a beautiful little child of a thumb's length. Deeply shocked at this miraculous event, and however much he wanted to fly from the specter of the Christian prison before his eyes, it proved utterly impossible for him to move his legs and flee Spandau.

Marcus, the Jew from Stendal, likewise subjected the second portion of the wafer to all the tortures he could devise, and then sent it on to Braunschweig or, according to other reports, to Frankfurt am Main.

Similarly, Jacob of Brandenburg placed the third wafer portion on his table and gave it such a battering and piercing that one could see the grace-filled drops of blood on the table. As he could neither wash nor scratch away the blood, he knocked the blood-spattered chip from the table and took it and the wafer to Osterburg. There an affluent Jew named Mayer gave the wafer to his son Isaac, who in turn brought the holy sacrament to his wife at the marriage bed with words to the effect that she should be truly thrilled and highly honored to know that he was bringing her the God of the Christians.

During the marriage feast, the enemies of Christ subjected the sacrament once again to torture. As bridegroom, Isaac had the honor of the first blow. The wafer is also said to have ended up in Braunschweig, where now all the Jews of that town are sitting in prison. The wafer and the blood-spattered chip together with the table were brought to Berlin. There the wafer miraculously turned into bread again, and then crumbled and slowly vanished.

While they were in jail, the obstinate, blind dogs confessed that in the past few years they had purchased seven Christian children, one from his own peasant mother for twenty-four groschen, another for three guilder, and a third for ten. These children they pierced with needles and knives, tortured, and finally killed them. Then they prepared the blood with pomegranate and served it for dinner.

On this account, his majesty, the noble Landgrave Joachim of Brandenbi sentenced the criminals to death on Friday after the fifteenth of July in Berlin, and declared their personal belongings and holdings confiscate. The Christian, Paul Fromm, was to be shredded with tongs and burned on a separate stake. Next, thirty-eight Jews, chained by the neck, were to be burned to ashes.

And-one has to have seen it to believe it-these obstinate and impenitent Jews received their sentences with smug looks and were led away singing loud hosannas. Once on the stakes, they not only sang and laughed but some also danced and sent up shouts of jubilation, their chained hands raised high, crushing straw and stuffing it in their mouths. Without any regard for the manifest portents, they suffered their death unflinchingly, to the great horror of inconstant Christians.

Of the aforementioned Jews, Jacob and two others had themselves baptized. Jacob, whose Christian name is now Joerg, and one of the other two, were beheaded the next day and died Christians. The third, an occultist, was allowed at his own request to enter the Graue monastery in Berlin, since his guilt was limited to crimes against children only.

Nearly sixty Jews live to this day in Berlin without any knowledge of these events. It is said they will be turned out of this territory again, as is only fitting and proper.